What Are Winter Tyres?

What are Winter Tyres?

Winter tyres are made with a compound that ensures the tyres maintain a high rate of elasticity at low temperatures, which increases the level of grip and traction the tyre is able to provide. Winter tyres also have a wider pattern blocks containing sipes. These sipes help to disperse water and snow from underneath the tyre, maximising the grip, traction and performance in poor weather conditions. 


Why Use Winter Tyres?

In some European countries, it’s against the law to not use winter tyres in winter. But in the UK, there’s no law preventing you from using summer tyres all year round. So, do winter tyres really make a difference? Here’s some of the most key benefits of winter tyres:

  • Confidence and control – most drivers find that the superior grip and traction of winter tyres gives them that extra security when they’re driving in challenging winter conditions.
  • It’s not just about snow and ice – as a general rule of thumb, as soon as the temperature dips below 7°C, winter tyres outperform summer tyres. Whether it’s rainy or snowy outside, cloudy or clear blue skies, the high elasticity of winter tyres ensures you get better grip and a safer journey in cold temperatures.
  • The colder, the more effective – made from specially formulated tread rubber, winter tyres make it easier for you to control your car on icy and snowy roads.
  • Strong traction - winter tyres have wider pattern blocks and extra cuts in the tread called ‘sipes’ that give the tyre extra bite to grip winter roads, hills and sharp corners, and get rid of build-ups of snow.
  • Aquaplaning– the deeper tread pattern in winter tyres are designed to disperse more water from under the tyre than summer tyres, meaning you’ll be less likely to aquaplane on any standing water.
  • It’s the law in some European countries: if you plan on driving through European countries, you’ll need to make sure you follow the laws in each respective country.
Goodyear Winter Tyre UltraGrip close up

Winter tyres also benefit from cutting edge technology to enhance their performance in the worst of the winter weather. This helps to constantly improve the effectiveness of winter tyres:

  • Ice Zones – a tread with numerous biting edges that gives you enhanced gripping traction, particularly on icy and slippery roads.
  • Winter Grip Tread Compound – a tread compound that offers enhanced traction on ice and snow-covered roads from season to season.
  • 2D Blades in the Centre Zone – these blades make stopping and starting on snow and ice easier

Can You Use Winter Tyres All Year Round?

You might be tempted to think that if winter tyres are the safer option in winter, then they must be worth keeping on your car all year round. However it is strongly recommended to use the correct tyres for each season for optimal safety and performance on the road.

As soon as spring comes around and temperatures start to rise above 7°C once more, it is recommended to change your tyres back to summer tyres. The softer rubber compound of winter tyres can wear out quickly in warm weather and the performance of the tyre will suffer in comparison to summer tyres. 

If you’re looking for a tyre to use all year round, your best bet is to fit your car with All Season tyres.

All season tyres blend together the technologies summer and winter tyres to provide good performance all year round.


Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 built for cold weather, rain or sunshine.

Goodyear Winter Tyre close up sidewall

When to Switch to Winter Tyres 

There is no specific date to put winter tyres on your car.

According to The Met Office, the average daily temperature drops below 7°C in the UK between November and April.

When it gets to this time of year, you should be thinking about changing to winter tyres.  

Can You Mix Winter and Summer Tyres?

You should not mix winter and summer tyres. Mixing tyres in this way can make slippery conditions more dangerous and affect how well your vehicle handles, especially if the tyres have different tread patterns and performance features. So it’s important to buy a full set of winter tyres and a full set of summer tyres, not two winter tyres and two summer tyres.

Car in wintery conditions with winter tyres fitted

Where to Store Winter Tyres

If you’re switching between winter and summer tyres, you need to store them correctly. And when cared for properly, your winter tyres will last as long as your summer tyres. Keep them in clean, polythene bags and rest them on their sides.

For best tyre care, you’ll need to avoid any wet or oily surfaces and cover them from exposure to heat and sunlight. If you stack your tyres, rotate the stack regularly.

How to Identify a Winter Tyre

You can recognise a winter tyre by the 3PMSF mountain snowflake symbol on its sidewall. Some all season tyres will contain this symbol too.

An EU tyre label gives you information about safety and environmental features, and all new tyres come with one. However, it doesn’t cover winter performance characteristics, so as well as asking your local dealer, it’s a good idea to seek out some independent tyre tests. 

3 peak mountain snowflake symbol on tyre sidewall

Can You Get Run Flat Winter Tyres?

Yes, run flat winter tyres are available, such as our UltraGrip Performance+ tyre. 


UltraGrip Performance +

Improved wet, dry and winter performance

  • Short braking distances on wet & dry
  • Improved grip on snow & ice

RunOnFlat Technology

Our revolutionary RunOnFlat technology lets you drive at up to 50mph on a flat tyre.

So there’s no need for roadside tyre changes, and a reduced risk of motorway blowouts.

Rim Protection Technology

With rim protectors built into the tyre, you’ll enjoy greater protection against curb damage.

On-Off Road Technology

Designed for off road use with 4-wheel-drive vehicles, these tyres may also be used on the road at speeds of up to 118mph.

How Do Winter Tyres Work in Snow?

Take a look at our UltraGrip Performance+ tyres in action.

The winter compound maximises contact with the road in colder temperatures to provide excellent grip. With traction protect technology, braking forces are fasted transmitted into grip and thus shortens braking distances even in snow. 


Learn more about modern snow research:

Science of snow is the supreme discipline of winter tyre development. In the snow lab our engineers investigate the structure of snow and its effects on tyre performance. Learn exciting facts about snow and winter tyres.


Winter Driving Tips

Driving in snow, slush and ice brings its own problems. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Keep your speed down - you shouldn’t exceed the maximum speed that your vehicle recommends for winter tyres, which is often lower than that of summer tyres
  • Check your tyre pressure – make sure your tyre pressure is inflated to the recommended level to make sure you get the best performance from your tyres
  • Use a higher gear – avoid spinning your wheels by starting and pulling away in second gear
  • Keep your distance – you should increase the distance between you and the car in front in winter in line with the increase in braking distances on wintry roads
  • Don’t overdo the accelerator if stuck in snow – use the lowest possible gear and rock the tyres back and forth until you’ve got enough forward motion to push yourself forward
  • Avoid puddles and standing water – standing water is more likely to be on the roads in winter, so take extra care to prevent aquaplaning

Buying Winter Tyres

When you’re ready to buy, browse Goodyear winter tyres or find a dealer near you. 


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